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Slashback: BlackBerry, Cloning, Smart Hotels 378

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the a-turn-for-the-worse dept.
Slashback tonight brings some correction, clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including more news from the BlackBerry case, a follow up on the South Korean Cloning pioneer, China promising a strong continuation in space exploration, a behined the scenes look at Smart Hotel technology, a change in direction for the Massachusetts OpenDocument war, and a slightly different approach to the intelligent design in schools question. Read on for the details.

BlackBerry closer to a shutdown. WebHostingGuy writes to tell us MSNBC is reporting that Research in Motion Ltd, the company who makes the BlackBerry is nearer now to a shutdown of their US mobile email service than ever due to the recent ruling handed down. From the article: "U.S. District Judge James Spencer Wednesday ruled invalid a $450 million settlement between RIM and NTP Inc., a small patent holding firm of McLean, Va., that maintains the technology behind the popular BlackBerry infringes on its patents."

Cloning pioneer admits to wrongdoing and resigns. moraes writes "The first research group to clone human embryos ran into some ethical difficulties concerning the source of the eggs - allegations were made indicating that the eggs were taken from junior research assistants. The South Korean pioneer, Hwang Woo Suk, has since resigned his official posts and apologized for lying about the sources of eggs used.."

China on the moon by 2020. IZ Reloaded writes "China will send its astronauts to the moon by 2020 according to the Deputy Commander in Chief of China's manned space flight program. Hu Shixiang said that the goal is subject to the government's funding and their ability to build a rocket with 25 tons capacity."

Behined the scenes with Cisco. molotov writes "Cisco installed the system described in the recent Slashdot article about Smart Hotel Rooms in New York City and has a great video about the technology used in a similar project for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel."

Massachusetts gives Microsoft a second chance. An anonymous reader writes "CNet is reporting that Massachusetts is considering adopting the MS Office XML format as a standard to be used to store the state's documents now that it is under review as an ECMA standard. From the article: 'The commonwealth is very pleased with Microsoft's progress in creating an open document format. If Microsoft follows through as planned, we are optimistic that Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats.' Microsoft still does not intend to support the OpenOffice standard." IBM also took the time to weigh in on the issue with a recent letter to Thomas Trimarco.

University sued for supporting evolution. Hikaru79 writes to tell us that two parents are suing the University of California-Berkeley based on the contents of a website aimed at educating teachers. From the article: "Jeanne and Larry Caldwell, the couple bringing the suit against the site, claim that the site delves improperly into religion. While most debates center around whether or not Intelligent Design is "religion in the classroom," the Caldwells are looking to spin it the other way."

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Slashback: BlackBerry, Cloning, Smart Hotels

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  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:08PM (#14152260) Homepage
    China on the moon by 2020. IZ Reloaded writes "China will send its astronauts to the moon by 2020 according to the Deputy Commander in Chief of China's manned space flight program. Hu Shixiang said that the goal is subject to the government's funding and their ability to build a rocket with 25 tons capacity."

    The Chinese have a huge population and apparently an unknown AIDS victim population that keeps growing. Some estimates are in the 10+ million range.

    China is full of amazing scientists that have been making huge advancements. Why are they pushing so hard for the space race and not for eliminating AIDS and opening their *real* numbers of infection to the world?

    I'm unimpressed with anything they do until they get their ass in gear and stop w/the human rights issues and the government coverups that go along with it. That includes ANY country, not just them.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:14PM (#14152300) Journal
    There's nothing wrong with that belief, providing you don't try to foist it on school children as being science.
  • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:15PM (#14152306) Journal
    C'mon, there is not the slightest possibility that RIM is going to commit corporate suicide in the name of anti-patent martyrdom. None.
  • by someone300 (891284) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:15PM (#14152311)
    I thought the problem was whether this view should be taught in science classes or not. Personally I believe it should be left for discussion in philosophy classes...
  • by sinsofthedove (898187) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:17PM (#14152323)
    The more heated the debates over the teaching of creationism/evolution get, the more I worry that it's actually education itself that's being threatened. The article gave a very snarky summary of the learning process - teachers teach, and hopefully the students learn - and it's that very process that's continually being challenged. If this debate leads to a massive shift in favor of homeschooling among parents who oppose the teaching of scientific theory, there will be serious problems in this country.

    Also, their argument is partially based on the fact that the site is government funded. Does this mean that eventually private institutions are going to be the only places allowed to teach without getting hassled? Schools shouldn't operate under fear of suit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:18PM (#14152329)
    sure they can co-exist - one gets taught in science class the other in religion class - very simple.

    The issue here is different though - UC has a requirement that for entry you have taken classes in A, B, C and D - in this case one of these is a science class that covers certain topics including the theory of evolution and the religious schools are complaining because they decline offer those classes. UC's not turning people down, just requiring them to take make-up classes (BTW UC doesn't have any religious education requirement)
  • by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:18PM (#14152335) Homepage

    Oh, for crying out lo--

    Look, it's simple. The only thing science and religion have in common with each other is that they're both methods people use to try to make sense of the world around us. Period, full stop, end of the matter.

    Science holds most dear that which can be objectively, repeatedly, independently verified. Religion, on the other hand...religion is nothing without faith.

    And a person with faith is one who makes conclusions about that which he has concluded is inconclusive, has knowledge about that which she knows is unknowable. Faith is not ``willful ignorance,'' but rather ``willful insanity'' or ``willful idiocy.'' Faith is a thing deserving not praise and respect, but pity and scorn.

    To equate science with religion in this context in an attempt to force their superstitious mindfuck on people is just about the most reprehensible thing I can think of--especially when you consider that these people would be dead without modern medecine, and that modern medicine wouldn't exist without that oh-so-hated cornerstone of science, the Theory of Evolution.

    </rant>

    Cheers,

    b&

  • by CyricZ (887944) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:23PM (#14152349)
    It's wrong because you're just making up fantasy to try to appease religious fanatics.

    Scientists shouldn't try to appease. They should do nothing more than try to understand nature via the devising of theories, and then using observation and experimentation to back up said theories.

    Sure, you can concoct some story about some intelligent designer designing evolution. But that doesn't change the fact that there's no basis to such claims.

  • by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:28PM (#14152395) Homepage
    Yes, and this entity is called "LAWS OF PHYSICS".

    Stupid jokes appart : No. It's not possible, because evolution is about understanding the mecanism which made todays deversified life-form (even in your exemple, science is used to understand how the designer did design. In a phylosophical way, modern science is patiently and minutiously dissecting deities). Like everything else in science, it's about finding good models to understand and predict.
    And Intelligent design is by defition (by the definition of its proponent) is something that CANNOT be understood and SHOULDN'T be falsifiable (the whole "designer has planted dinosaur fossils to fool us" part and other "noodly appendages"). It's "don't ask questions and just believe, if our explanation doesn't seem understandable it's the designers fault". That's why ID cannot be considered as science.

  • by tsotha (720379) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:32PM (#14152415)
    Someone needs to go to the moon, eh? Why? That's the question NASA couldn't answer in 1973, and that's the question they can't answer now. I'd rather see my tax money go into something that had some chance of being usefull, like the space elevator or solar power satellites.
  • by Silver222 (452093) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:35PM (#14152435)
    Bullshit. Show a biologist new evidence, and if the prevailing theory doesn't fit, it changes.

    Show a religious person evidence of any kind that contradicts their faith, and the faith doesn't change. After all, virtue from a religious standpoint is believing the unbelievable.
  • by M0b1u5 (569472) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:36PM (#14152453) Homepage
    Sorry, ID is most definitely NOT a hypothesis. A Hypothesis can be falsified - whereas the CONCEPT or IDEA of ID can't be falsified, so it quite definitely does not get the dignity of being called a hypothesis. It's a crackpot belief - nothing more. Please don't get me started about the "I'm entitled to my belief" thing because it gets long... The crux of the statement is that you have an entitlement. Unfortunately, every true entitlement also means a corresponding duty. The right to life for example, has a corresponding duty on everyone else not to kill you. If there is no duty, then there can be no entitlement. So, strictly speaking, you are NOT entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to express your opinion - be it true or false - but you do not have an entitlement to believe in something which is not true.
  • by Texodore (56174) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:38PM (#14152470)
    Maybe you should read some M. Scott Peck. He argues that science and religion - well, spirituality - aren't that different. He argues, and correctly I believe, that people that question to the point of being agnostic or athiestic are more advanced spiritually than zombies in a church building, be them fundamentalists or progressives.

    Both are a way to make sense of the world. Conclusions from science will come and go just as do religions. A better model of the world will be developed in physics one day, the Big Bang theory may change, just as deism is in its dying throes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:41PM (#14152482)
    Science answers 'how'. Religion answers 'why'.

    Yes, that's somewhat broad, but I don't see why you need to call those who are religious idiots or insane. Let's not forget there are plenty of scientists out there who also happen to be religious. Just because they have faith doesn't mean they stop searching for the answer to questions.
  • by eosp (885380) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:48PM (#14152532) Homepage
    Religion, n.: Absolute faith in things that are clearly false.

    Revision 1: Religion, n.: Faith in things that can't be disproven.

    As a question for thought, let's examine this situation. Imagine that 66 separate documents, which were written by 40 different authors over a period of 1500 years. Now imagine that there are no conflicts in these documents--that they have the same basic ideas. Here it is: http://www.netbible.com/ [netbible.com]

  • by jolande (852630) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:50PM (#14152543)
    Science holds most dear that which can be objectively, repeatedly, independently verified. Religion, on the other hand...religion is nothing without faith.

    And a person with faith is one who makes conclusions about that which he has concluded is inconclusive, has knowledge about that which she knows is unknowable. Faith is not ``willful ignorance,'' but rather ``willful insanity'' or ``willful idiocy.'' Faith is a thing deserving not praise and respect, but pity and scorn.
    As a note, I am an atheist who is majoring in physics.

    But the fact that you have been modded +5 insightful scares me. Science has everything to do with faith. In order to accept science, you must take on faith a large amount of assumed 'truths'. How do you know that you can trust measurable observations? How do you know that your experiences and measurements are a valid and accurate representation of reality? You must take it on faith that the world in inherently ruled my reason, and that there are a set of mathematical laws of nature that dictate the functioning of it. Not a single thing I listed can be proved. To accept science, you must, in essence, take on blind faith the scientific method.

    So before you go around bashing anything that is taken on faith, step back and think about everything that you have taken on faith. To believe in anything requires faith.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:52PM (#14152549) Journal
    Science isn't simply a search, it is a well-defined set of methodologies. Telling kids the holes in theories is one thing, but trying to argue that nebulous designers of unknown origin and unknown powers can be parked in a problematic part of a theory is, in fact, teaching them something that is counter to science. That all theories have problems is not debatable, but are you willing to put a disclaimer on a physics textbook "The theory of gravity has some problems due to the fact that currently no accepted and verifiable quantum theory exists. Some people believe that angels push balls down to Earth."?

    Evolution is one of the best supported theories we have, particularly in light of the major studies of the molecular data in the last twenty years. It cannot explain everything and debate still circles around some areas, but are you actually saying that that is reason to call the theory into question?

  • by fade-in (839519) <f4d3.1n@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @08:58PM (#14152579) Homepage Journal
    Kind of funny how the comments that are pro-faith ( or at least tolerant to faith ) don't get modded up like the anti-faith comments. I thought the beef was as much about people being bigots as it was about who's "theories" stand up best in a lab... but I digress

    To me, the funniest thing about this whole debate is how nobody seems to see that science and religion don't need to be stepping on each other's toes. They provide answers to two completely different questions. Science asks "how" and religion asks "why"? What's the problem with that?

    Being a believer myself, I can understand the need some folks feel for having faith in their life. It gives us hope, resilience, and teaches us how to find happiness and peace.

    But believing doesn't mean that I can't see the value of science - I know that my life is quantifiably better because of medicine and other technologies, and I'm very thankful for those as well.

    I guess the bottom line for me is that science doesn't try to tell me how I should live my life, and relgion doesn't tell me all of the nuts and bolts of how I came to be alive. They both have their own domains, and they are both very important within their own bounds.

    Fundies trying to teach religion in a science class is just as shameful as a scientist saying that I'm deluding myself by believing in something that he/she hasn't experienced.

  • by Lifewish (724999) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:02PM (#14152600) Homepage Journal
    Apologies for the angry tone of the following post, it just got my goat somewhat.

    There has been no concrete explanation for the forming of the universe by evolutionists

    Firstly, there's no such word as "evolutionist". The correct term, if you're talking about someone who studies the scientific discipline in question, is "evolutionary biologist". If you're talking about someone who accepts evolution as the most likely explanation for our being here, the term is atheist or agnostic (depending on details).

    And thus to my second point. The theory of evolution and associated bioscience have nothing to do with how the universe started. None. Nada. Zip. They have nothing to do with stellar evolution, despite the name. They have nothing to do with how the Earth was formed. They don't even have anything to do with how life began - the correct term for that is abiogenesis and it's closer to chemistry than biology. The only reason anyone bothers to conflate the scientific discipline of evolutionary biology with this vast range of related subjects is so they can bundle them all together, slap a label saying "ATHEIST" (or, more likely, "ATHIEST") on them and then whine loudly about people teaching this pile of "dogma" in schools. Wonderful straw man there.

    Similarly, there is no such thing as Darwinism. The only people who advocate "Darwin: right or wrong?" as a valid ideological choice are those who wish to set up a false dichotomy. Which historically has been proponents of creationism or intelligent design.

    Extreme evolutionism is more fanatical than based on science, with many varied beliefs and varied "scientific" explanations for the same things.

    On the whole, these "beliefs" are falsifiable. When a conjecture as to how things work/worked is falsifiable (and preferably meets a couple of other standards), we call it a scientific hypothesis. You may have heard the term? It's that thing that Intelligent Design isn't until it demonstrates a method by which it can be falsified. In the same vein, "God did it" can never be a hypothesis if God is assumed to be infinitely powerful, as such a God can do whatever the heck he wants. Now, this may even be the way the universe works. There may be an all-powerful God who takes great pleasure in planting random dinosaur skeletons and tinkering with bacterial flagella. But that conjecture sure as hell isn't scientific and hence shouldn't be taught in a science class.

    Incidentally, there's nothing wrong with there being several different explanations for the same data. But until they're falsifiable they're called conjectures, and until we have sufficient examples of them dramatically failing to be falsified they're called hypotheses. Only once they've been through the white-hot flame of detailed scientific enquiry are they referred to as theories.

    The teachers could present, say, the top 3 worldwide views on the subject, and allow the students to choose.

    I have no problem with that. As long as they do it in a Religious Studies class. If they try to do it in a science class, they've completely misunderstood the nature of science and need to be sacked for the children's sake - it'd be like getting a Holocaust denyer to teach 20th century history. Science isn't about "choosing" what's right. It's about suggesting what might be right, then scrutinising it, poking holes in it, looking high and low for contradictory data (and there must be the potential for contradictory data, otherwise your conjecture is scientifically nihilistic) and then, when you've given up in despair of ever disproving the damn thing, accepting that it might conceivably be an accurate reflection of reality.

    Is there a single religion in the world willing to go through that baptism of fire? If it did, and passed, wouldn't that rather destroy the idea of "having faith", anyway? Answers of "No" or "Yes" respectively indicate that religions have no place in the science classroom.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:02PM (#14152601) Journal
    This is a pretty odd claim. The only scientific theories I know of that were actually tossed out were some early views on the geological evolution of the planet. Theories are very rarely ever thrown out. They may be subsumed into another theory (as Newtonian mechanics was subsumed into Relativity), but scientific theories are such rigorous entities, and based solely on the evidence, that it's very unlikely that theories will be outright thrown out. Whatever replaces the Big Bang is still going to have to explain nucleosynthesis, red shift of distant galaxies and the CMBR. Thus whatever comes next won't so much replace Big Bang cosmology as expand it.

    In this light, science is very much a different enterprise than spirituality.

  • by Lifewish (724999) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:07PM (#14152624) Homepage Journal
    There is a reason Chinese scientists don't protest much and that's because those who are still alive are those who kept their mouths sufficiently shut last time [wikipedia.org].
  • by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:12PM (#14152647) Homepage
    China is full of amazing scientists that have been making huge advancements. Why are they pushing so hard for the space race and not for eliminating AIDS and opening their *real* numbers of infection to the world

    Um, because the research knowledge, skills and interest do not transfer well between things like celestial mechanics and materials engineering on one hand, and biomedicine and disease control on the other?

    This kind of thing always seem to crop up, and implicitly assumes that "science" is one monolithic activity within which people are essentially interchangeable. They aren't. Specific skills and talents - and personal interest, which is hugely important in develop the other two - are very different across disciplines. A really, really good physicist could perhaps become a middling plod of a physician, though their heart wouldn't be in it. More likely, they'd become a really good engineer, designing new DVD player models or Hello Kitty merchandice instead.

    Besides, there is no nation on earth without poverty, AIDS or [insert favourite physical ailment here]. What are you doing posting on slashdot when you should be working on your medical degree?
  • by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:15PM (#14152659) Homepage

    jolande wrote:

    Not a single thing I listed can be proved.

    Any honest scientist will tell you that this is disturbing at some level, and would consider a proof on the matter one way or the other to be one of the greatest accomplishments of science ever. The fact that these are gaps that must (currently) be filled by faith is an embarrassment, not a point of pride.

    And that's what makes science different from religion. Science does a damn good job with the limited resources we have but will honestly evaluate the likeliness of its claims. Religion makes shit up and calls it the unquestionable Word of Some God.

    Oh, sure, there are a few religious people, like the Dalai Lama, who are excited to see science challenge their most preciously-held beliefs and who would accept being proven worng. But the vast majority of Christians, for example, are so convinced that Christ was the living incarnation of the impossible being who created Life, the Universe, and Everything that they can't even see that Jesus was no more real than Hercules, Isis, or Krishna. If you even hint otherwise, the faith blinders snap closed.

    Cheers,

    b&

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:28PM (#14152747) Journal
    The only problem is that most* people don't make a rational decision about it. They just stick to what their parents believe in.

    An 8 year old child doesn't have the mental capacity to make a rational decision about what God is and whether he exists. Young minds are unable to distinguish between fact and fiction.

    Teaching children relegion from a young age is no different than teaching love for Chairman Mao. It's just like any other kind of programming: garbage in, garbage out

    *most != all
  • Re:1+1=2 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:33PM (#14152776)
    >>Now, i am not implying that all is perfect, but sciences subversion of religion is deeper than religion.

    Indeed. A greater understanding of the natural world has changed some of the tenets of the major world religions.

    However...

    >>if one believes in natural cause and effect, then one cannot believe that god destroyed new orleans for being a city of sin.

    Assuming that God doesn't like to break his own natural laws (which is a rather common belief), he could still "punish" New Orleans by tinkering with the world at the quantum level, so that the hurricane would hit right at the right spot, with just the right angle to send a wave crashing through the levees.

    >>One cannot believe that god sent AIDS to kill the infidels of sub saharan africa.

    Disciples: "Jesus, who's fault is it this man is sick? His own sin or his parents'?"

    Jesus: "Neither"

    Good Christians thus have never blamed sickness on the sins of the sick person. If they do, then they're not good Christians.

    >>One cannot believe that one or two or a few people have a holy authority to dominate the rest of the world.

    I'm interested in seeing how you can explain how science says this. A greater understanding of the natural world is discontinuitous with, say, Mohammed telling his followers to spread Islam by the sword.

    >>One cannot believe that killing people who look different of believe different from you will result in your ascent to the promised land.

    Indeed. Science has been great in eliminating racism. Melanin levels, some differences in genetics, etc.

    But I don't think any major religion has as a tenet "killing people that look different from you". You'll see various exhortions to kill people who believe in false gods / lure believers away from the true god, but statements like this make it fairly obvious that you don't understand what it is you're criticizing.

    >>Church, unfortuntaly in many cases, has become the last holdout to a civilized society. Nowhere else can one legally hire on the basis of color or belief, caste out on the basis of belief, and get away with hate speech.

    You just sound like AAA (another angry atheist). No holy book of a major religion discriminates on skin color (that I'm aware of). And OF COURSE THEY CAN DISCRIMINATE ON BELIEF. You think it would be fine for a buddhist to sue (and win) because a Lutheran church wouldn't take him on as a minister? If so, you've got a lot bigger issues than I have time to deal with.

    Science is great, religion is great, observing the interplay is fascinating, but ignorant statements like the ones you made above just remind me why as much as atheists claim to follow rational thought, the truth is usually the opposite.
  • by Lifewish (724999) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:36PM (#14152798) Homepage Journal
    It's true that the theory of evolution assumes that things will look undesigned (that's methodological naturalism for you). On the other hand, it does not assume that things will look undirected (the difference being that directedness does not imply a designer). The ToE in no way states that life is going to be structurally similar to the results of a hurricane passing through a junkyard, or similar bad metaphor of your choice.

    Most reasonably efficient structures, taken without context, are consistent with directedness - the structure is "directed" towards high efficiency by dint of the fact that organisms containing the inefficient versions tend to have fewer surviving offspring. About the only thing I can think of that would be consistent with design but not directedness is a message buried deep in DNA saying "God was here". So far no such signature has been found.

    Fortunately for the ToE's scientific status, there are a large number of other ways it could be falsified, and it has repeatedly failed to be disproven by any of them. Compare and contrast with the conjecture of "intelligent design".
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:44PM (#14152843)
    Sophistry.

    The real argument about creationism (or, more frequently, ID) not being science is that it doesn't conform to the scientific method. That is, scientific research generally has these steps:

    1. Observe something about the world around you
    2. Hypothesize why those observations might be so
    3. Predict what other observations the hypothesis supports
    4. Test those predictions to determine whether the hypothesis is false

    The test of creationism as science versus dogma isn't whether Rhonda Jones's personal criteria are satisfied. It's whether the scientific method is followed. As soon as ID/Creation advocates present hypotheses that can be tested scientifically (and not just tests of evolution masquerading as tests of ID/creation), they can join the scientific community. That hasn't happened yet, however, and that's why ID/creationism can't be considered science.

  • Re:1+1=2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benjamindees (441808) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @09:57PM (#14152906) Homepage
    if one believes in natural cause and effect, then one cannot believe that god destroyed new orleans for being a city of sin. One cannot believe that god sent AIDS to kill the infidels of sub saharan africa. One cannot believe that one or two or a few people have a holy authority to dominate the rest of the world. One cannot believe that killing people who look different of believe different from you will result in your ascent to the promised land.

    Sure you can. Just depends on what you believe the original "cause" is. Somehow I don't think there is even yet a theory of an ultimate "natural" cause.

    Church, unfortuntaly in many cases, has become the last holdout to a civilized society. Nowhere else can one legally hire on the basis of color or belief, caste out on the basis of belief, and get away with hate speech. The evolution debate is one of the last gasps in a long war perpetuated by those who profit off discrimination and hate. Many more will be hurt because those who are willing to kill for profit are vanquished.

    Now listen to you. Who's "imposing their will on other people" now? Who's casting their arguments in terms of good versus evil? You want the freedom to propagate your speech, on the public dime no less, yet you would deny the same right to others based on your arbitrary determination of what is "hateful"?

    You believe taking money from the public in order to fund an agenda with which you happen to agree is "civilized". And those who are in opposition to your agenda, in fact, who are being targeted by it, disagree. Why should my government support either of you via my taxes?
  • by firewrought (36952) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @10:04PM (#14152935)
    Show a biologist new evidence, and if the prevailing theory doesn't fit, it changes.

    In practice, this can take awhile because the biologist is human too. Sometimes it can even take a generation of researchers to displace an outmoded theory. However, your point is well taken: science has a good track record of error-correcting itself. Unlike most religious and political philosophies, science actively seeks to tests its ideas and guard itself against human cognitive error.

    For millennia, religion has promised to heal the sick, fertilize the land (or womb), and bring down destruction on the enemy. In the past 400 years a lot of those promises have come to fruition, but somehow it seems that the credit belongs to those who have conducted, funded, and leveraged scientific research. The ability of science to critique itself, to backtrack, to admit error and accommodate new information probably has something to do with its relative success in these areas.

  • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @10:13PM (#14152971) Homepage
    Please mod parent up. I'm so sick of whining "Why are they doing X instead of ignoring all their interests, talents, and passions and trying to cure AIDS?"

    Parent is exaclty right, this isn't like a video game where you just focus your society's scientific developments towards aids research. In real life people have different interests and goals, and not everybody sees their destiny as curing AIDS.

    And who knows what developments a quest to outerspace could unearth that might be relevant to AIDS! Remember, science and technology do not evolve in a linear fashion. Don't believe me? Just watch any of James Burke's Connections series.

    Now...if you want to make an argument about a government aiming in one direction and not another, perhaps you should be discussing their budgets for the alotted programs. Of course you run into the same issue which is that a government cannot simply devote all its resources to one endeavor. Just like any proper investment, you need to DIVERSIFY FOR MAXIMUM GAINS WITH MINIMUM RISKS.

  • Re:Blackberries? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zro Point Two (699505) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @10:16PM (#14152987)
    Ok, let's go off on a tangent here...

    First, common, be original. Last time there was an article about NTP and RIM I'm pretty sure there was the same comment about the BlackBerry just being something for your boss to email from while speeding down the road. And as you can see by the vast number of different sigs here on /., you don't have to have a BlackBerry to have your sig say "Sent from my BlackBerry".

    That aside, if you are referring to the fact that only execs can afford it, let's take a quick peek at prices here. I can get the newest BlackBerry (8700r) for $499 or I can get the Treo650 from the same provider for $899...hmmmm

    I use a BlackBerry 7290 for my cell phone, and it's pretty decent, I can hear the other person, they can hear me (even in noisy environments) and that's good enough for me. Have you happened to have noticed that the BlackBerry is an EMAIL device, not a phone? You cannot tell me that the Treo can do a better job at email. But the new BlackBerry sure does an amazing job at being a phone as well as an email device.

    I get an attached doc, xls, pdf, ppt, jpg, gif, txt, etc on my BlackBerry and I have no trouble opening it up and viewing it...so that can't really be considered a death spike.

    Obviously your company doesn't take security too seriously if it would rather have every employee using POP to check their email that is sent plain text over the wireless network....as apposed to having a single port open for outbound initiated connections only and full 3DES or AES encryption of messages on the wireless network.

    And "technically" you don't even need special software to use a BlackBerry for email (before you pounce, yes it is email only, not attachments or wireless synchronization) because you can use the desktop redirector.

    This brings up another point. I'm sitting on the bus, I schedule a meeting with someone, and automagically that meeting is in my calendar at work....or how about being out at a conference and getting someones email address...that contact is now synchronized wirelessly to my contacts at the office.

    So, let's see what else people will fire back with....It can't do music. Well, no, but that's what my MP3 player is for, and it sounds a hell of a lot better than ANY pda does.

    It doesn't have a camera. No, but then again it also doesn't have a crappy camera. If I need to take pictures I'm going to bring my digital camera instead of the crappy ones I can get from a cell phone or pda...have you seen the quality of most of them?

    It doesn't do video playback. That's ok, I don't like watching video on a 2.2" screen anyway....hurts my eyes.

    It doesn't have an SD slot. I'm actually up in the air on this one. Given what the BlackBerry actually does, I don't see a need for an SD card. If it did multimedia, then maybe, but then you get into SD or miniSD? What about security? etc.

    The point is that not everyone WANTS or NEEDS all the functionality that the Treo offers, and the core components that most people want/need are offered in both.

    Why the parent was modded to +4 Interesting is beyond me. Is it because one company switched from BlackBerry to Treo? Was it because of their opinion that the phone calls sounded better on the Treo? or was it the rehashed comment about Execs only using it for the Sig?
  • by CharlesDonHall (214468) on Wednesday November 30, 2005 @11:33PM (#14153455)
    Please state these ways. Every time I see a discussion on slashdot about evolution being falsifiable, it ends with really no falsification being good enough for the adherents to evolution.

    That's because there's so much evidence in favor or evolution that it would take something incredible to cancel all of it out. It's like the "Round Earth Theory". What kind of evidence would convince you that the Earth was flat?

    Anyway, here are some things that could falsify evolution: A pair of unicorns materializing inside a closed room. A lion giving birth to a griffin. Somebody finding tech notes that describe how a particular animal was designed and built. (But strictly speaking, even those wouldn't falsify evolution...we've seen evolution happening. It would just show that there's a "Special Creation" or "Intelligent Design" effect that works in parallel with evolution.)

  • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@NOSpaM.castlesteelstone.us> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @12:42AM (#14153916) Homepage Journal
    You're kidding me, right?

    Let's ignore for a moment anything that isn't an aspect of the extant world -- so, no "historial theories" like the discovery of Troy. And we'll let the computers count.
    1. Humors - the idea that our bodies are controlled by four distinct fluids, whose proportions to each other determine our health and general character. Earlier theories about how the heart worked focused around this one. The pre-modern practice of bloodletting was tied directly to this one.
    2. Eugenics - specificially, the sub-theory that pretty white folk are superior to ugly non-white folk.
    3. Columbus's theory on the size of the planet. (No one else wanted to go not because they thought the world was flat, but beause Columbus undershot the estimated size of the world by about 50%)
    4. Life on the Moon: "From the Earth to the Moon" was closer to Science Fiction than Science Fantasy
    5. Hollow Earth: Once a rather well-respected theory, as recently as the 20th century still considered a plausible position.
    6. Infinite Divisibility: There was a time when the concept of both atoms and cells was unheard of in scientific discussion. If you just kept cutting something, you would keep on getting smaller and smaller things of generally the same nature as the larger things.
    7. Bad Air: A theory that disease was caused by the aroma of swamps, graves, illenss, and other forms of decay. Can be considered a variant of Humors.
    8. Atomic Holocaust: Before Truman gave the OK to test the first atomic bomb, there was a scientific theory that such a detonation would ignigte the helium in the atmosphere and destroy all life on Earth.
    9. Spontaneous Genesis: My favorite dead-theory (the debate over Intelligent Design is really between I.D. and S.G., if you go back far enough). Rather than having all creatures under the sun born from like creatures, scientific minds once held that life sprang naturally fron an environment -- a frog would spring from a swamp, for example. (Frogs are actually a good test for this, as if you don't realize that tadpoles are baby frogs you don't have any baby Frogs.)
    10. Merchantilism: A theory about human behavior is still a scientific theory, and the idea that a nation's economic health is best measured by the gold in its coffers took a long time in dying.
    11. Alchemy: The granddaddy of all debunked theories. At the time of the dawn of science, all learning was in the form of Alchemy -- its mystic and purposefully cryptic overtones hid the foundations of what became chemistry, but those foundations were wrapped up in a theory of how things worked that was fundamentally different than even early medieval chemistry.
    12. Homosexuality as a mental illness: Medicine is also a science.
    13. Freud's picture of the Psyche: While Freud was the pioneer of his field, his actual theories have been largely discarded. Even those that still practice Freudian psychoanalysis generally use different theories to guide in their interpretations.
  • by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @12:46AM (#14153944) Homepage

    An Anonymous Coward wrote:

    TrumpetPower! wrote:

    And...if I hate religion, it's because it's been the greatest instrument for murder, torture, lies, oppression, and hatred ever invented by humanity.

    Second only to atheism and eveolution.

    Whatever you say, Mr. Ford.

    Hitler was a devout Christian. As Katt so eloquently put it:

    So here's what we've learned about evasive and self-serving Christain mendacity: if something walks like a duck; quacks like a duck; looks like a duck; is descended from ducks; was brought up as a duck; never claimed not to be a duck; quotes ducks; justifies itself in the language of ducks; is accepted by ducks as one of their own; says it's doing the work of ducks; is photographed shaking hands with leading ducks; is a participant in and supporter of duck-type rituals; is never condemned by the organisations that define duckdom; uses the slogans and insignia of ducks; refers endlessly to the mythology and history of ducks, and has the same racial prejudices as ducks do, then ... *it might not actually be 'a duck'*. Reason: the Christains *moved the fucking goalposts* - and they won't tell you *where to*...

    As for Stalin, his lack of belief in any god no more motivated him to be a mass murderer than did his lack of belief in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the gnomes at the bottom of the garden. It was his paranoia combined with his megalomania and general sociopathy that made him a mass murderer. He saw religious groups as rivals for power and had them killed en masse, sure, but he did the same thing with secular political groups--or, for that matter, anybody who he thought was organized enough to represent a threat to his power base.

    Cheers,

    b&

  • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:27AM (#14154817)
    China is full of amazing scientists that have been making huge advancements.
    They are not encumbered by the weirder bits of the US patent system like the blackberry story above, nor an odd bunch of heretics with a selective view of their holy book that they wish to impose on every situation apart from forbidden things they favour like merchants in the temple or eating bacon.

    The rocket scientists are unlikely to discover a cure for AIDS, just as those that let their religeon lead them in innapropriate situations are blocking spending money on AIDS prevention (yes, not using prevention means the wrath of their unforgiving god will fall upon those that sleep around and they will die of AIDS - childish isn't it - perhaps these losers should actually read the book they use as an excuse for their malice and jealousy). Less AIDS research goes on there, possibly because that problem has only become recently apparant there while it has been seen as a problem in the USA for many years - and I'm sure no-one can become a world leading AIDS expert overnight. We may see some movement on AIDS if China puts a lot of effort into solving the problem - since solving the problem and not imposing morality on others may be the main objective.

    Flames may well come after this barely articulate rant typed by someone who needs more sleep - but I am not writing this to bash Christians, since the nastiest of these folk that go by that name don't really follow what he said and really follow some unforgiving god of blood and money.

  • simply not true (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2005 @07:01AM (#14155473)

    religion was illegal... ...and people on the whole preferred it that way because it stopped people messing with observable fact. Or lawyers.


    A lack of religion did not prevent the Socialist government from distorting science in biology and agriculture.

    Just look at the current US administration. The great majority of the antiscientific stances they take are due to corporate interests. The stem cell debate and the FDA's baseless rejection of the morning after pill were the lone counter examples. Most of the administrations antiscience stances are on pollution, drugs, ... things unrelated to religion.

    But on the other hand corporate and military interests put the Bush administration in favor of science when it comes to things like nuclear power. It is the leftists that are antiscience when it comes to nuclear power, genetically modified crops, ...

    Neither side is proscience. They both have an agenda that they place above the truth and will agree or disagree with science as it suits them.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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